College Sports

The nation is about to learn what Wofford foes know: Fletcher Magee is a handful

East Tennessee State head coach Steve Forbes is no stranger to high-major college basketball.

Forbes spent time as an assistant coach at several schools, including Tennessee and Texas A&M, before becoming the head coach at ETSU in 2015.. During his time with the Vols, at Texas A&M and at various other programs, Forbes saw numerous impressive shooters.

Chris Lofton, the SEC’s all-time leading 3-point shooter, was the best of the group, and Forbes thought he would never see a better shooter than Lofton. Then he started facing off against Wofford’s Fletcher Magee.

“I’ve seen this for four years now. I’m so sick of it,” Forbes said after Magee made six-of-seven 3-pointers in Wofford’s 81-72 win over ETSU in the semifinals of the Southern Conference Tournament.

“He’s a hell of a player. Hopefully the nation will see that. I don’t think the nation quite understands what we understand in this league, how hard he is to guard.”

What makes Magee so difficult to guard is not only his effortless range but also his release. The senior can catch the ball with his body facing the opposite direction of the basket, turn and fade away in the air in an instant and still drain the shot with consistency.

Forbes was pleased with the way 6-foot-4 guard Bo Hodges guarded the 6-foot-4 Magee that day. It just didn’t matter. Forbes joked that violence might be the answer when asked how to stop Magee once he gets hot.

“Break his legs? I don’t know,” Forbes said. “I don’t know how you really guard him. I felt like we were there most of the time. He just made unbelievable shots... It’s almost comical that he can be looking the other direction and make a 3 from 35 feet.”

Magee enters Thursday’s night’s NCAA Tournament matchup against Seton Hall two 3-pointers shy of the all-time Division I leader in 3-pointers made. His 502 3-pointers are two behind Travis Bader of Oakland’s 504.

Magee leads the nation in 3-pointers made in 2018-19 with 151, 16 more than anyone else. But he doesn’t just shoot a lot of 3-pointers, he shoots a high percentage. Magee is shooting at a 42.8 percent clip entering the postseason, good for No. 23 nationally. The Orlando native is hoping to continue his success on the big stage in the NCAA Tournament.

“There’s nothing different that I’m going to do in the tournament than I’ve done my whole entire career,” Magee said. “Just plan on coming off screens and making shots and doing whatever I can to help the team win.”

Magee will not only be playing close to home at the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, which is about two hours from his hometown of Orlando, but he will also be playing in a familiar venue.

He attended Wofford’s 2015 NCAA Tournament game against Arkansas as a fan and cheered for the Terriers in the 56-53 loss. Now he has an opportunity to lead Wofford to its first NCAA Tournament win Thursday at approximately 9:40 p.m. before what he hopes is an NBA career.

“We know there have been so many great (Wofford) teams before us. A lot of teams have came close and played pretty well, so we’re planning on getting the job done,” Magee said. “I always envisioned making it to the tournament, so being in that stage when I was just a recruit and now getting a chance a few years later, it means a lot and I plan on making the most of it.”

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